Speakers hail army’s aggressive polio awareness campaign

ISLAMABAD: Speakers on Wednesday said that Pakistan army’s aggressive awareness campaign about the polio vaccination has resulted increase in number of vaccinated children throughout the country.
Addressing a symposium on polio eradication, the speakers said that polio eradication is one of the highest priority programmes in Pakistan and the federal and provincial governments along with armed forces have firm resolve and renewed commitment to eradicate polio from Pakistan as soon as possible.
They said that those forces who isolated Pakistan in cricket through terrorist acts are now trying to segregate Pakistan by targeting polio vaccination teams. They have same agenda to tarnish image of Pakistan.
They said now terrorists in North and South Waziristan are asking locals to provide them polio vaccination for their own children. This speaks of the mindset and double standard on which these terrorists operate.
“On one side they are asking locals not to get their children vaccinated and on the other hand they are desirous to have their own children vaccinated. Actually they are enemies of the state and enemies of humanity,” they said.
They said that despite all impediments Polio Eradication Plan 2014 has been moving at a much faster pace since last one month, after arrangements were finalised in a meeting with military officials on April 17 to provide protection to polio vaccination team and ensure their reach to inaccessible areas in FATA, Peshawar and Karachi.
They said security forces are now active for provision of security and reach to inaccessible areas, the remaining administrative arrangements would remain responsibility of the civil government, they added.
After the involvement of army, positive upsurge has been observed in vaccination campaign. A robust media awareness campaign has been launched in KP and FATA and progress is being reviewed regularly for coordinated decision making and accountability, they said.
Speaking on the occasion, Commandant of Armed Forces Institute of Pathology Maj Gen Ayyub said that in line with the government’s initiative to eradicate polio from Pakistan, army has been asked to assist the civil government in making this campaign a success.
He added a meeting was held at GHQ to coordinate details of the campaign with particular emphasis on security and access to affected areas. Representatives from WHO, federal and KP government and FATA Secretariat attended the meeting.
He added the forum was apprised about the current polio situation in the country and challenges being faced for smooth conduct of polio campaign. The forum also expressed the urgency for polio eradication imitative to save the future generations. The participants emphasized the need to take all necessary measures including improving security situation to make Pakistan polio-free country.
He said that Pakistan is facing multifaceted challenges. Volunteers moving door to door to administer polio drops were targeted and many lost their lives in the line of duty. He added not only the polio workers, security personal also lost their lives protecting the polio workers.
The Khyber agency, North Waziristan and South Waziristan are areas where majority of children do not have access to the vaccine. The real challenge has been approaching these children in difficult terrains, he added.
He said there are many areas in these agencies where people are not willing to vaccinate their children because of the fear from militants.
He said Pakistan Army is voluntarily supporting ongoing anti polio campaigns. He added Pakistan army has  taken number of steps in FATA, Frontier Regions and Karachi to include information and perception management campaign, dissemination of already decreed fatwas by different clerics to locals for understanding Islamic dimension and enhanced engagement with political agents and local elders through jirgas.

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